Times of Israerl staff report, “Most Israelis in the south of the country were shifting back to their daily routines on Friday as violence from the Gaza Strip subsided and a tense calm set in, following a two-day bout of fighting that saw the heaviest rocket fire and retaliatory Israeli strikes since the 2014 Gaza war. The Israeli army lifted some security restrictions on Friday, with the Home Front Command announcing that all previously ordered precautions in the town of Netivot and communities in the central Negev region had been lifted. The military also said that the train service between Ashkelon and the Gaza border town of Sderot would resume.”
Judah Ari Gross and Adam Rasgon write in Times of israel, “The Israeli Air Force on Thursday evening flattened a five-story building in the northern Gaza Strip that served as a headquarters for the Hamas terrorist group’s internal security service, the army said. The Israel Defense Forces said the strike on the building in the northern Gaza Strip, which also served as a cultural center in the coastal enclave, was in response to “rocket fire by the Hamas terror group against the city of Beersheba earlier in the day. Hamas denied that it was behind the attack on Beersheba, saying it was the work of a more radical salafist group, according to Hadashot news.”…
“The attack on the building was one of the IDF’s first strikes on a site deep inside a city in Gaza since the 2014 war. Most of the strikes previously conducted by Israel targeted facilities outside major population centers. In addition, the Rimal neighborhood in which the building was located was one of the nicer areas of Gaza City.
“This decision was seen as an attempt by the military to show Hamas that it was prepared to step up its attacks against the terror group if rocket and mortar fire continued to strike southern Israel from the Gaza Strip…Minutes after the Israeli strike on the building began, incoming rocket sirens blared in the Eshkol region of southern Israel, sending thousands of residents into bomb shelters, where they had already spent much of the day in light of frequent attacks from the Gaza Strip throughout the previous two days. A second wave of sirens were triggered in the Eshkol region shortly after the IDF confirmed that it had conducted the strike at 8:00 p.m.”…
“In the attack, the Israeli military appeared to have used its “roof-knocking” technique, in which planes first drop a low-powered bomb on a building as a warning to those nearby of an impending strike…It came hours after the rocket hit an open field north of Beersheba, setting off sirens in the southern city for the first time since the 2014 Gaza war and rupturing a purported ceasefire that lasted approximately two hours.(more…)
Judah Ari Gross writes in Times of Israel, “The attack against Beersheba marked a significant increase in the level of violence from the Gaza Strip. Terrorist groups in Gaza have launched over 180 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel since Wednesday evening; however, these have been mainly directed at communities directly adjacent to the coastal enclave. Beersheba is located some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Gaza. Sirens also sounded in the communities of Omer and Lakiya, just outside the city. This was the first attack directed against Beersheba since the 2014 war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.”
“The launch came some three hours after terror groups in the Strip declared the current round of violence to be over and two hours after the latest mortar shell had been fired. ‘The current round in Gaza has ended. The resistance responded to the enemy’s crimes in Gaza. The continuation of calm in Gaza depends on (Israel’s) behavior,’ said an official from a joint command center for a number of Palestinian terrorist groups, notably the Gaza-ruling Hamas, earlier Thursday. A source in the Hamas terrorist group confirmed the cessation to AFP. On Tuesday, Hamas had vowed to avenge the deaths of two of its members killed by IDF tank fire after the army mistakenly thought a Hamas military exercise had been a cross-border attack. On Wednesday afternoon, the military warned that it was anticipating a revenge attack by Hamas.” (more…)